November 12, 2018 4 min read
When I opened the bottle of Nightfall Fragrance Oil and sniffed, I was immediately returned to a summer evening, sitting in the grass by the lake with my best friend. Notes of green grass and the damp earth at the edge of the water blend with a light touch of florals to recall the long lavender dusks of midsummer. Masculine undertones anchor the softer florals, creating a fragrance that both men and women can appreciate.
It’s clear it doesn’t behave very well in soap. It comes with notes that it discolors dark brown and accelerates trace. My first (and subsequent) experiments played that out.
My recipe is 40% lard, 40% olive oil, 20% coconut oil, and 100% goat milk, soaped as cold as I can get it. I recognize there are disagreements about soapmaking ingredients and their effects on humans and animals, so if you prefer different ingredients, you can look here for some alternative recipes.
I divided my batch into thirds and measured out the two fragrance oils (5% total) into their respective colors: half the Avalon Fragrance Oil with a small amount of Celestial Silver Mica, the other half with Blue Vibrance Mica, and, in the third bowl, Nightfall with Mocha Brown Mica. Initially, the blue, silver, and brown blended well visually, but within a few hours, the Nightfall shifted yellow, and it turned to the very warm (and in my opinion unattractive) brown you see in the image. The fragrance blend is lovely, but it was sweeter and more floral than I was after. The two together make a very light, feminine fragrance, but it doesn’t really ‘go with’ the color scheme it created, even if the colors had worked out as I intended.
It does accelerate. Fairly quickly. It was more gloppy than pourable, and I made sure to add that fragrance last and begin pouring it into molds immediately. Within a few minutes, I was spooning rather than pouring. I use individual bar molds for my test batches, so I can make a very small amount and see it out of the mold more quickly. I also have less trouble with gel phase in the smaller amounts, though I almost always cure for two days in a small fridge set as cold as it will go. Almost. More on that later.
Having seen what I would get, I wanted to work with the warmth instead of against it. Using the same recipe, and the same process, I divided the batch into thirds and scented each color separately. Wanting a slightly less sweet fragrance, I put Avalon in a blend of Celadon Green Mica and Green Vibrance Mica, in equal amounts, but added Jeweled Fir Fragrance Oil to the second bowl of the same color blend, hoping to use the reported discoloration to my benefit. Jeweled Fir can only be used to 4.65%, so I reduced the fragrances slightly, dividing the total into thirds. I chose a layered pattern instead of delicate swirls that were unachievable with Nightfall.
The First Layer
Avalon once again behaved beautifully, and initially, the Jeweled Fir layer looked identical to the Avalon layer. A little Activated Charcoal was added to the Mocha Brown, in the hopes of diminishing some of the yellow. At the last possible minute, I stirred in the Nightfall by hand. It turned thick, but spreadable, and remained smooth and soft enough for the boxy hanger swirl I wanted to try.
I have to add that my little soaping fridge smelled wonderful. I stared at the top more often than I needed to, even though I couldn’t see the middle layer that I wanted to change just enough to show the swirls. As soon as it firmed up, I pulled it out and sliced.
And it was perfect. The warm greens go together, and the discoloration caused by the Jeweled Fir was different enough to create the layers I wanted. The fragrances work beautifully together, and the hint of pine adds an edge to the floral sweetness of Avalon. The scent is suggestive of the earthy greens and browns that are present in the soap, and the swirls were of even height, despite the thickness of the Nightfall scented brown layer. It is a visually simple soap; it’s difficult to achieve a more intricate pattern with this fragrance. But it is beautiful to look at and smells delightful. Success!
I was, after all, very excited to see this work out. So perhaps I will be forgiven for forgetting/ignoring the knowledge that milk soaps get hot, and that yes, the laws of thermodynamics apply to me, even if I’m really excited to slice my soap. Many of my readers know what is coming. If there’s interest in the glory and despair of the partial gel phase, I’m happy to discuss my successes and failures. This is not the fault of the product, but the producer, and in that spirit, I have entitled my final photo ‘Patience Is A Virtue’.
Tell me about your experiences with these fragrances, and if there are others you love that you have struggled to use, and I’ll be happy to see what I can do with them.
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|Erin is a writer living quietly in the Appalachians, making soap and writing health care articles and horror fiction. She's obsessed with fragrances and the moods they evoke, and uses her soap to inspire her fiction, and her fiction to inspire her soap. She's probably baking delicious cupcakes right now. Or soaping them!|